Vol.VII No.I Pg.5
March 1970

Whot Hoppened?

Robert F. Turner

Although Restoration History gives attention to rumbles of a Holy Spirit issue among early pioneer preachers, until recent years my generation thought such an issue was impossible. Thirty years ago I could conceive of trouble over. institutionalism, and forms of modernism were considered dangers; but Church of Christers who speak in tongues?? impossible!! Yet, it is happening!! (Vol.6, No.11)

We plan a series of articles on the Holy Spirit (although headings will vary) and we open that series by an examination of causes. How did a basically conservative people, with traditionally strong aversion to all emotionalism and direct operation spawn even a few tongue-speakers??

Perhaps our very aversion to displays of emotions helped to lay the trap. Reaction to shouting Methodists and better-felt-than-told religions of the 19th. century may have caused us to sqush de spirit of genuine enthusiasm and expression of feelings. Doing things decently and in order became mechanical, unvarying three-songs-and-a-prayer; and we began to count the items of worship, instead of worshipping. Now, especially among young Christians, there is reaction to what they consider formalism — tradition-ridden habits — and the pendulum swings in the other direction.

The swing has been encouraged by the trend of recent years to emphasize devotional activities among the young people, rather than solid, meaty Bible study. I havent been about the colleges much lately, but in the early 5Os, the evening devotionals were very popular at ACC and other colleges. So-called church- camps have contributed to the emotional impetus; and I can personally testify to the heady influence of songs and prayers under a starlit sky with a glowing camp-fire, and smoke ascending to heaven. Writing against such is like challenging motherhood. How does one warn of songs and prayer in a devotional?? A sane man does not question these, per se; yet cool observation tells us that they may be used (intentionally or otherwise) by novice teachers, to take the place of intelligent service to God, in keeping with sound Bible instruction.

Impressionable youth, and untaught older folk, are caught up in the appeal to the senses, and soon we are hearing of mood music being sung by a special group, as worshippers assemble on Sunday morning. The young people are given charge of a service, and they turn out the lights, use rotating prayers, and other short-cuts to emotional response. We have even read of a cross burning at vespers.

People fed on such a diet soon regard careful Bible study and doctrinal matters as irrelevant. They cant be bothered with discussions concerning church organization. and readily accept social gospel appeals. There have been hints of some special Spirit action in their devotionals — and they are prime targets now for the providential, then the direct action pitch. Those who question their feelings are cold legalistic Anti-s, and I wouldnt give what I feel right here for all ——.